Hip-Hop has become a major musical genre in recent years in Russia in the post-Soviet space, notably coming to great recent international attention with Oxxxymiron‘s record-breaking rap battle versus Dizaster on KOTD. But if Russian pop music is greatly influenced by musicians from Ukraine, then a special chapter in the history of Russian-speaking rap is now the influence of Kazakhstan.
Enter the world of hip-hop artist Scriptonite, who took a special place in this industry and formed a unique local style. He is a Kazakh rapper who brought increased attention to the music industry in Kazakhstan and to the country more generally. All his three albums to date were highly anticipated and charted at #1 on the local iTunes and other music charts, and his music videos have amassed more than 50 million views.
Born and raised in 1990 in the village of Leninskiy near the small city of Pavlodar in the north-east of Kazakhstan, Scriptonite (real name Adil Zhalelov) positions his work as “Kazakh rap” and does not approve of those who call him “the Russian performer” doing “Russian rap”.
Unlike many Russian rappers, Scriptonite focuses on the musical part of his work. His music combines a huge number of genres: blues, gospel, soul, rock, trap, Latin American motifs and lots of others. His music is viscous and multilevel. In his double conceptual album Ouroboros (2018) he not only used a mixture of genres but also recorded tapes of real conversations, as well as speeches of the famous Kazakh stand-up comedian Nurlan Saburov. Scriptonite always performs his live shows with a band and experiments with the sound and arrangements on stage.
Before becoming a favorite of millions, the young Adil Zhalelov worked in Kazakhstan at a petrol station as well as selling his own beats through social networks before starting to rap. His songs touch on various themes including low SES-credit problems, alcoholism, drugs, crime, domestic violence amongst many others. It was on these stories that the first part of his double album Ouroboros: Ulitsa 36 (Ouroboros: Street 36) was built. The second part Ouroboros: Zerkala (Ouroboros: Mirrors) is about the period after the release his first album Dom s normalnymi yavleniyami in 2015 (House With Normal Phenomena) when he and his crew have now found money and fame, but problems have not gone from his life. They are instead replaced by new ones – Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.
However, Scriptonite does not limit himself to the Russian-language scene. In 2017, he released a breakthrough track with Major Lazer and visited Los Angeles to meet with Diplo and others. As a result, a collab track Where Is Your Love was released in the fall of 2017 and topped the charts. In September last year, British trap-legend Tricky released the album Uniform which also featured work from the talented Scriptonite with the collab song Blood Of My Blood and also produced two more tracks on the record (Same As It Ever Was and It’s Your Day). Scriptonite is definitely breaking down borders and taking his uniquely sounding music worldwide.